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Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Aug 15;44(16):6464-9. doi: 10.1021/es100310d.

Wasted food, wasted energy: the embedded energy in food waste in the United States.

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Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, The University of Texas at Austin, USA.


This work estimates the energy embedded in wasted food annually in the United States. We calculated the energy intensity of food production from agriculture, transportation, processing, food sales, storage, and preparation for 2007 as 8080 +/- 760 trillion BTU. In 1995 approximately 27% of edible food was wasted. Synthesizing these food loss figures with our estimate of energy consumption for different food categories and food production steps, while normalizing for different production volumes, shows that 2030 +/- 160 trillion BTU of energy were embedded in wasted food in 2007. The energy embedded in wasted food represents approximately 2% of annual energy consumption in the United States, which is substantial when compared to other energy conservation and production proposals. To improve this analysis, nationwide estimates of food waste and an updated estimate for the energy required to produce food for U.S. consumption would be valuable.

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